Learning Impact Awards: The Future of EdTech Starts Here

IMS Global’s annual Learning Impact Awards (LIA) are conducted on a global scale to recognize outstanding, innovative applications of educational technology to address the most significant challenges facing education.

At the core of the Learning Impact Awards competition is IMS Global’s Learning Impact Trend framework of education technology project categories (Fig. 1), which has evolved over the years as new trends emerge and others obsolesce. This framework is a leading indicator of emerging education technology trends, offering planning guidance for education institutions. It’s based on the innovative, impactful entries brought forward at each Learning Impact Awards competition; and enables IMS Global to identify emerging technology trends, usually 3-5 years—or even more—ahead of mainstream adoption by the educational community. For example, adaptive learning is a hot topic today across K-20 institutions because it is seen as the way to help students succeed, but IMS Global recognized its groundbreaking impact on personalized education almost a decade ago; designating it as one of the original project categories for the competition and awarding platinum and silver medals in this category in 2007. The award categories are defined in the Learning Impact Trend Framework Categories table. A categorization of all winners since 2007 is contained in the Summary of Winners table.

Learning Impact Framework image

Figure 1. Learning Impact Trend Framework Categories (updated December 2017)

Competition and Judging

Any product or service provider, educational institution, or training provider that meets the competition’s eligibility requirements can enter the competition. Regional winners, along with other finalists selected by Learning Impact Award evaluators, all advance to the final round of competition, which is held in conjunction with the annual Learning Impact Leadership Institute. The finalists’ entries consist of a four-minute video pitch, a one-page detailed project flyer, and discussions and demonstrations with attendees during the May Learning Impact event. In 2016, IMS Global opened the judging to the public for the first time, allowing people to evaluate the finalists’ entries online via the IMS website. The online voters’ combined scoring counted as one vote that was combined with the judges' votes.

What distinguishes IMS Global’s Learning Impact Awards is its pragmatic focus. Compared to other award programs in the education sector, a greater amount of work goes into the Learning Impact Awards evaluation process. Judges assess Learning Impact Awards entries based on the use of technology in an educational institution context with clear evidence of learning impact. The 2019 winners—platinum, gold, silver, and bronze medalists—were announced at the Learning Impact Leadership Institute in May 2019. Eight medalists were selected out of 32 innovative technology finalists.